United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Michael Lee Martz, Plaintiff Pro Se
B. SIMANDLE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Michael Lee Martz seeks to bring a civil rights complaint
pursuant to the 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Scott McCray
and the other Camden County Freeholders (collectively
“Freeholders”), and Camden County Correctional
Facility (“CCCF”) Wardens Taylor and Owens for
allegedly unconstitutional conditions of confinement in CCCF.
Complaint, Docket Entry 1. At this time, the Court must
review the complaint to determine whether it should be
dismissed as frivolous or malicious, for failure to state a
claim upon which relief may be granted, or because it seeks
monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such
relief. For the reasons set forth below, the Court concludes
that the complaint will proceed in part.
following factual allegations are taken from the complaint
and are accepted for purposes of this screening only. The
Court has made no findings as to the truth of Plaintiff's
alleges he endured unconstitutional conditions of confinement
in CCCF during two periods of pretrial detention: July 5,
2015 to December 2015 and either January or February 2016.
Complaint ¶ 6. During these times, Plaintiff was housed
in a two-person cell with three other people. Id.
¶ 6(a). He states the cell toilet was unsanitary, and he
was forced to sleep on the floor. Id. ¶ 6(b).
He also states there was inadequate ventilation, unsanitary
food and food preparation, and inadequate access to the
courts “either by restricted use of legal library or
understaffing of the public defender's office.”
Id. ¶ 6(d)-(f). He alleges all defendants
“allowed and did nothing to stop” the
unconstitutional conditions, id. ¶ 6, and that
they “knew or should have known” about the living
conditions, id. ¶ 4(b)-(c). He seeks relief in
the form of monetary compensation. He has also filed a motion
asking the Court to order CCCF to provide him with 10 hours
per week of unrestricted law library time. Motion for Library
Time, Docket Entry 1-3 at 3.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Standards for a Sua Sponte Dismissal
Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134,
§§ 801-810, 110 Stat. 1321-66 to 1321-77 (April 26,
1996) (“PLRA”), district courts must review
complaints in those civil actions in which a prisoner is
proceeding in forma pauperis, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1915(e)(2)(B), seeks redress against a governmental
employee or entity, see 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(b),
or brings a claim with respect to prison conditions,
see 42 U.S.C. § 1997e. The PLRA directs
district courts to sua sponte dismiss any claim that
is frivolous, is malicious, fails to state a claim upon which
relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a
defendant who is immune from such relief. This action is
subject to sua sponte screening for dismissal under
28 U.S.C. §§ 1915, 1915A and 42 U.S.C. § 1997e
because Plaintiff is a prisoner proceeding in forma pauperis
and is seeking redress from government officials about the
conditions of his confinement.
to the Supreme Court's decision in Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, “a pleading that offers ‘labels or
conclusions' or ‘a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action will not do.'” 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atlantic Corp. v.
Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). To survive sua
sponte screening for failure to state a claim, the
complaint must allege “sufficient factual matter”
to show that the claim is facially plausible. Fowler v.
UPMS Shadyside, 578 F.3d 203, 210 (3d Cir. 2009)
(citation omitted). “A claim has facial plausibility
when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the
court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is
liable for the misconduct alleged.” Fair Wind
Sailing, Inc. v. Dempster, 764 F.3d 303, 308 n.3 (3d
Cir. 2014) (quoting Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678).
Moreover, while pro se pleadings are liberally construed,
they “still must allege sufficient facts in their
complaints to support a claim.” Mala v. Crown Bay
Marina, Inc., 704 F.3d 239, 245 (3d Cir. 2013) (citation
Section 1983 Actions
complaint could also be reasonably construed as attempting to
raise a First Amendment denial of access to the courts claim.
Plaintiff alleges that he was denied access to the law
library and that the public defender's office was
establish a cognizable [access to the courts] claim, a
prisoner must demonstrate that he has suffered an actual
injury to his ability to present a claim.” Henry v.
Moore, 500 F.App'x 115, 117 (3d Cir. 2012) (citing
Christopher v. Harbury, 536 U.S. 403, 415 (2002)).
Additionally, “the claim must relate to either a direct
or collateral challenge to the prisoner's sentence or